ASPEN, Colorado — Director of National Intelligence James Clapper does not know whether Russia hacked into the servers of the Democratic National Committee. Regardless, he really thinks you all need to stop freaking out.
“I’m taken aback a bit by somewhat, the hyperventilation over this,” Clapper said during a panel at the Aspen Security Forum. “‘I’m shocked that someone did some hacking. That’s never happened before,’” he deadpanned.
Anonymous federal officials have been telling media outlets for days that, within the intelligence community, officials were sure Russia was responsible for infiltrating the DNC's servers and stealing thousands of emails and internal communications. Asked if his unnamed colleagues were jumping the gun, Clapper unequivocally answered “Yes.”
“I don’t think we’re quite ready yet to make the call on attribution,” he said. “I mean, we all know there are a just a few usual suspects out there, but in terms of the process that we try to stick to, I don’t think we’re ready to make a public call on that yet.”
Of course Russia wants to meddle in U.S. politics, Clapper explained, and it’s certainly conceivable they would do something like the DNC hack.
“They see a U.S. conspiracy behind every bush and ascribe far more impact than we’re actually guilty of. But that’s their mindset,” he said. “So their natural response is to retaliate and do unto us as they think we've done unto them. I think it’s not surprising that they would behave that way.”
But blaming them in the specific hack of DNC servers — which, with the release of 20,000 private emails last week, rattled the committee on the eve of its convention — is too far a leap for the intelligence community to make at this point, he said.
“I can’t say and we don’t know enough to ascribe motivation, regardless of who it might’ve been,” he said, and, seriously, stop freaking out.
“This is a profound challenge for the country. We just need to accept that and not be so excitable when you have yet another instance of it.”